Cranford 7-Eleven discussed at meeting

CRANFORD, NJ — The future of the new 7-Eleven at 49 South Ave. West in Cranford was discussed at a town council meeting held on Monday, Aug. 8. A permit to construct the convenience store was presented by attorney Jason Tuval. 7-Eleven proposed that the store be built on the property.

The proposal included a request to expand the existing building, which has a side yard. The parking lot will be located in the front of the structure. A proposed sign will project approximately six inches from the wall of the structure. The sign will be located less than 150 feet from the adjacent residential zone. The area for the sign will be approximately 29 square feet and the sign will be approximately five-and-a-half feet, internally illuminated. The loading zone will be located on the front and side yard. Residents have already expressed concerns about this.

“The first and most major concern is that the 7-Eleven is going to be built in a office/residential area,” Cranford resident Phyllis Kivett-Howard told LocalSource on the telephone for a previous LocalSource article that appeared in the July 7 edition. “This means that there won’t be any place for loading or unloading except for in the front of the store. The front of the store is a busy intersection with Bank of America. Also there is the issue of the lit sign and the resizing of the building by approximately 900 feet. The concern about the 24-hour operation is an increase in crime. We love the small-town feel of Cranford, and we want to keep it that way.”

Tuval spoke on behalf of 7-Eleven at the town meeting. He explained this is an application for preliminary and final site plan approval. He reviewed location and history of the property, which is in deteriorating condition.

“The proposal is to expand and repurpose the building,” Tuval stated at the town meeting. “The site will be upgraded, parking complies and the structure will be repurposed as proposed by the Master Plan. It will be a 24-hour, 7 day-per-week operation. There will be two employees on duty at all times and there will be security approved by the police department. Deliveries will not take place during peak hours and are usually two box trucks per day for 15 minutes, and one to two large-base deliveries per week.”

Jeff Martell, of Stonefield Engineering and Design, was sworn in and appeared before the board. His credentials were presented, and he was accepted as an expert witness in the field of civil engineering. He explained the following questions proposed by Tuval.

“The prior station and gas use is being eliminated and will not be replaced,” Martell said at the town meeting. “The location is a key component and very compatible for the proposal. It has its advantages. When you have a triangular building envelope, there must be a balanced site plan and appearance to comply.

They did not wish to encroach onto residential neighbors. Sixteen parking spots are proposed and police noted that the size was appropriate for retail use. There will be all-new streetscape along both frontages. There will be a loading area and trash enclosure, located on the residential side, and a heavily screened barrier.”

The town meeting minutes state the building will be a total of 2,889 square feet with a brick gable roof and four dormers along the front, with materials and quality consistent with those used in Walgreens, Chase and Bank of America.

Stone will be used on the monument sign but can also be changed to brick. The sign will be internally lit according to the applicant’s preference but can also be externally lit if asked to do so. The lighting issue will be revisited as discussed. No signs will face the residential area, and the sign package is modest and balanced.

According to the town meeting minutes, the applicant will work with the board to determine appropriate times for trash removal. The light poles will be fixtures that provide the best lighting, taking into consideration the style for those on the residential side. There will be two entrances, with a back door that will be highlighted with an overhead light.

The applicant is flexible to some extent when it comes to making some compromises. The poles are very high, and the height will be revisited. The board has requested a model with everything shown.